Many of our customers enjoy the Pick-Up’s espresso on a daily basis. But did you know we have our very own blend?
Café Union, the venerable institution that’s been providing coffee to Montrealers for over 100 years, created the Pick-Up blend a few years ago.
James Kouri, coffee developer and proud member of the Kouri family (who’ve owned Union since 1964), recalls that “the blend came about because [Pick-Up owners] Penny and Bernadette wanted a flavour that was a bit of a Montreal style. They’d been trying different coffees, and they found some were too acidic and some were too sharp. They wanted something consistent and Montreal-like.”
What’s a Montreal style of coffee, you might wonder?
Kouri replies by breaking down a quick history lesson on the “waves” of espresso. Coffee aficionados have drawn battle lines between their waves of choice. Pick-Up fans will find that, as is our habit, we have a little something for everyone.
“In the second wave,” Kouri explains, “the espressos were typically a darker roast flavour profile—smoky, robust, chocolaty, woodier notes. The blends were mostly Italian and they roasted maybe a little bit darker. That was popular in the 70s and 80s. Since the 90s, the third wave focuses on sourcing, highlighting the origin of a bean and leaving the roast a little bit lighter, with brighter notes to accent the essence of the bean. The Montreal flavour is a cross between the two.”
Kouri adds, “Montrealers like a blend that reflects a bit of our four seasons—nutty for the winter, and a lighter, brighter profile for the summer.”
Taking his Pick-Up assignment seriously, Kouri sat down with his Union co-worker Leila Stambouli to brainstorm the new coffee creation. “We set about getting a blend that would be rich, a little bit smoky but with some complexity as well,” he says. Though the blend itself is a trade secret, Kouri will reveal that it combines Sumatran, Costa Rican and Brazilian beans, and that they aimed for a taste of “hickory smoke crossed with marmalade.
Whether you’re a coffee expert or a casual sipper, come check out one of our many espresso drinks and taste it for yourself. And if you enjoy the Pick-Up blend, you can now take it home with you—we offer 250-gram bags of the beans, ground or unground, for $6.99.